Saturday, January 27, 2007

Army Sgt. Mickel D. Garrigus

Remember Our Heroes

Army Sgt. Mickel D. Garrigus, 24, of Elma, Wash.

Sgt. Garrigus was assigned to the 543rd Military Police Company, 91st Police Battalion, 10th Sustainment Brigade, 10th Mountain Division, Fort Drum, N.Y.; died Jan. 27 of wounds sustained when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle during combat patrol in Taji, Iraq.

Sgt. Mickel David Garrigus, Army sergeant from Elma, killed by explosion in Iraq
By Carol M. Ostrom
Seattle Times staff reporter

When he called home Friday from Iraq to his family in Elma, Grays Harbor County, Sgt. Mickel David Garrigus had but a few precious moments on the telephone with his year-old son Ethan. Smiling and gurgling, Ethan accidentally hung up the phone, and the connection was lost.

The next day, Saturday, Jan. 27, Sgt. Garrigus was killed by a roadside bomb in the town of Taji near Baghdad. He was 24.

Sgt. Garrigus was a military police officer with the 10th Mountain Division, 543rd Military Police Company, 91st Police Battalion, 10th Sustainment Brigade based at Fort Drum, N.Y., and he was serving his second tour of duty in Iraq.

This week, Elma residents are mourning the loss by raising money so that Sgt. Garrigus' mother and stepfather, Deadra and David Garrigus, can travel to his burial — not yet scheduled — at Arlington National Cemetery. The military will pay only for his wife, Natasha, and their son to make the trip.

"Everybody in the community is trying so hard," his mother said Tuesday. "They're bonding together to do fundraisers to get some money together."

Mickel Garrigus was born Dec. 15, 1982, in Tacoma. When he was 4, the family moved to Elma, where he graduated from Elma High School in 2001. He enlisted soon after graduation.

He re-enlisted after his first tour, which took him to Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and Iraq. Offered a chance for a stateside job, he refused, his mother said. Instead, she said he told her: "I came here to fight for my country, and that's what I'm going to do."

In the military, he grew up quickly, from a fun-loving, soccer-playing kid into an Army sergeant, a military-police officer charged with protecting others.

"That was his life; he totally enjoyed the military" and serving in Iraq, his mother said. A few weeks ago, he asked his family to send clothing and shoes for Iraqi children.

His wife, who has been living with her family in Carson City, Nev., said fatherhood transformed her once "kind of wild" husband into a family man who set up insurance and a trust fund for Ethan and for his wife's schooling.

Other soldiers told her that the day her husband died, he had ordered a fellow soldier to wear all of her protective gear — which later saved her from the same blast of shrapnel that killed him.

Other survivors include his siblings, Matthew and Nichole Garrigus and Kyla Ostenson, all of Elma.

A local memorial service is set for 3 p.m. Saturday at the Assembly of God Church in McCleary, east of Elma. A donation account has been established through any Timberland Bank location.

Army Sgt. Mickel D. Garrigus was killed in action on 01/27/07.

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